Closed life specialists look forward to European boom

Buyers must avoid being hooked by unforeseen capital charges

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Snap-happy: large firms are buying up closed books of business

It's a tough time to be a minnow in insurance. The challenging economic climate makes this the age of the big fish – those able to withstand the dual pressures of a squeeze on investment returns and an increasing regulatory capital burden. It's also better to be big and nimble rather than big and clunky. With capital and liquidity at a premium there is no room for dead weight in the business, and companies unable to streamline effectively are liable to starve themselves of resources before long.